Five week disruption to court system in US state of Kansas is being blamed on ‘sophisticated foreign cyberattack’
The Kansas court system has suffered a ransomware cyberattack that has restricted access to records for more than than five weeks.
The Kansas Judicial Branch confirmed the development on Tuesday, saying the “sophisticated foreign cyberattack” resulted in hackers stealing sensitive data and threatening to post it on the dark web.
Ransomware is one of the most common forms of cyberattacks. Earlier this week the British Library confirmed staff data had been compromised in a ransomware attack that took place at the end of last month.
Kansas court system
According to the statement from the Kansas Judicial Branch, the attack took place on 12 October, and ever since then, access to information systems used by courts statewide has been disrupted.
“A few weeks ago, the Kansas judicial branch was a victim of a sophisticated foreign cyberattack that impacted the information systems used by the Kansas judicial branch,” the statement reads. “This attack has temporarily incapacitated Kansas Office of Judicial Administration information systems, affecting daily operations of the state’s appellate courts and district courts in 104 counties.”
“When we discovered the attack, we quickly disconnected our information systems from external access,” the statement adds. “We notified state authorities, and since that time have benefited from the continued support provided by the governor’s office, legislative leadership, and state and federal law enforcement.”
It said that the impact on its information systems is temporary, the cybercriminals also stole data and threatened to post it to a dark web site if their demands were not met.
“We are working with cybersecurity experts to identify the data quickly and securely so we can conduct a comprehensive review to determine the full scope of what personal information the cybercriminals may have stolen,” said the officials.
Based on the preliminary review, it appears the stolen information includes Office of Judicial Administration files, district court case records on appeal, and other data, some of which may be confidential under law.
The officials said that with the “help of cybersecurity experts, we are buttressing our systems to guard against future attacks. It will likely take several weeks to return safely to normal operations, including electronic filing, but we will do so.”
The Associated Press reported that for the past few weeks, many attorneys have been forced to file motions the old fashioned way, i.e. using pen and paper.